Considering how personal end of life is, many people find the idea of sharing that news a burden because they worry about causing other people distress.
Below we’ve collected some advice for how to broach these difficult conversations. However above all, even though you are sharing difficult information with other people, it’s important to remember that it’s ok to be upset yourself. Being honest about your feelings and thoughts will help you have meaningful conversations at this time when they matter so much.
Talking to children and teenagers
Talking to anyone about cancer is a challenge, but it can be even more so when it comes to talking to children or teenagers, and when the conversation involves the end of life. We’ve listed some tips below:2,3
- Be honest, and specific: it may seem difficult, but tell children outright what is going on. Sit down with them at a calm time, and have another adult in the room with you if you think this would help
- Use clear, simple language: try to speak to your children in a way that they understand, but most importantly in a way that you’re comfortable with
- Tailor your approach: children develop quickly, and some will be more aware of death than others. Additionally, also consider that children with disabilities or developmental abnormalities may struggle more than others, and in these cases a different approach may be needed
- Be prepared for questions: young children often don’t have the same concept of permanence or dying that older ones do. They may ask questions about what it means to die, what happens to people when they die etc. Be prepared for questions like these and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to questions about the future
In addition to having important conversations about end of life, there’s a lot of opportunity to emotionally and practically support your loved ones, and ensure certain things are in place for after you have passed away.
We’ve put some suggestions below for you to consider:
You can read more about some of these practical aspects here